by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
The always popular but lately controversial Frank ‘Juarez’ Shamrock has become something of an MMA legend in recent years. After beating Tito Ortiz in 1999 for what then was the under 200-pound middleweight championship, Frank retired from active MMA competition leaving both his fans and the owners and commentators of the UFC speechless.

Since his retirement, Frank generally stayed out of the limelight and was only discussed in MMA forums and on amateur ‘Top Ten’ lists. It wasn’t until Frank officially denounced his retirement last year and said that he would indeed make an MMA comeback to fight Cesar Gracie that his name was removed from the ‘retired MMA greats’ list, and he once again became synonymous with active MMA superstars.

Since his dramatic 21-second KO win over Cesar Gracie in his comeback fight, though, Shamrock has been the topic of much speculation and confusion with many of his alleged “signed” fights not actually occurring for one reason or another.

Frank has been bad-mouthing A.K.A. trained fighter Phil Baroni for months now and has repeatedly said that the reason his and Baroni’s fights always fall through is because Baroni is scared to fight him. Well, whatever the reason that Shamrock’s fights seem to continually fall through, one thing is for certain…if Frank doesn’t put his money where his larger-than-life mouth is soon, promoters and fans alike may choose to drop him like he dropped some of them almost eight years ago.

Frank recently joined MMAWeekly’s SoundOff Radio crew. When asked what is going on in the world of Frank Shamrock, Frank said, “I’m back in the world of professional fighting, I’m back to being a prize fighter and if the prize is big enough I’ll go fight for anybody but the UFC.”

Tonight, Ken Shamrock’s team the Nevada Lions will take on Frank’s team the San Jose Razorclaws in what will be the first IFL show of the New Year. Frank and Ken have always had something of a tense relationship, and this show will finally give each man the facility to compete – while not fully head to head – with one another.

Frank didn’t have all that much to say when asked about how the IFL show would play out between he and Ken, but he did say, “It’ll be business as usual, man…he [Ken] doesn’t talk to me and I don’t talk to him because he doesn’t have nothin’ for me.”

Shamrock continued, “Ken decided many years ago that he didn’t need to grace himself in my life, so I don’t worry about it. He doesn’t acknowledge me or have a relationship with me, so I don’t either.”

Frank also spoke about his feelings on his upcoming February 10th Elite-XC fight against Renzo Gracie. This fight will be the first in history to be aired live on Showtime and Frank seems to be excited to fight who he considers the top of the Gracie food chain.

Frank said of Renzo, “Well, I think he’s the best of the Gracie’s. I think he’s the most active and the most experienced out there right now…I’m so excited to fight any Gracie and in particular Renzo. I think that his style matches up with mine perfectly. Most people know – and for those who don’t know – I’ve been training in boxing for the past five years, and I just see me knocking his head off and going home and buying another house.”

Perhaps the biggest point of contention in Shamrock’s career right now is his on again/off again fight with the ‘New York Bad Ass’ Phil Baroni. When asked if his highly anticipated fight with Baroni was actually going to happen this time around, Frank simply said, “Yeah, it’s finally going to happen.”

Assuming that Frank does actually live up to his end of all of the contracts that he has apparently signed, it will be a busy year for the former UFC middleweight champion. This quite possibly could be the most critical year thus far in Shamrock’s career; a year in which he either solidifies himself as one of the all-time MMA greats and keeps his legacy in tact, or he and his legacy go down for the count as nothing more than big publicity stunts.

Hopefully, this year fans will get a definitive answer on this issue and will finally be able to truly rank Shamrock for his MMA accomplishments, not simply his trash-talking talents.